I saw it coming, and now I can safely say "I told you so" and so can a lot of other people who were expecting the new Ubuntu release to be unstable. 11.04 was released today to much hoopla from many news sites. Never have I been more disappointed by the stability of a release. Ever. Even Karmic Koala -- with which I had a terrible experience -- wasn't as horrific. I'm not even talking about the speed of the repository servers, which have been bombarded and are, thus slow. It would seem that at least on some machines, system stability rests on the edge of a knife. One of my machines would number among that lot.
I have a secondary machine at home which my children usually use to play games on Windows 7. It also runs the Linux distro flavor-of-the-week. During my vacation time this week I've toyed with Kubuntu 10.10, which was unacceptably slow, and Xubuntu 10.10, which had some notable issues. I was underwhelmed by both.
What has been my experience so far? Not good, I'm afraid. I grabbed a copy of Natty this morning, burned it, and started a clean install. The installer has a few minor annnoyances which have been introduced, such as not being able to type in the mount point for a specified partition. Irritating, but I can live with it. It also allows you to skip downloading certain parts. Seeing that the download speeds weren't as good as I liked, I hit the skip button to pass on downloading updates. My clicking was met with a hung installer. Luckily, I had passed the point where I could reboot without hosing the install, so I hard rebooted the thing, which at this point was my only option.
The first official boot didn't go any better. The GRUB screen was distorted, which didn't bode well. Once Ubuntu started booting, the terminal display was an utter mess and completely unreadable. X started and I was informed that I would have to use the classic desktop. The message was completely expected, but it was accompanied by portions of the screen which needed redrawn -- this would be disturbing to a newbie. Next stop: getting the proprietary Nvidia drivers. Ho-hum. They installed without a hitch (surprisingly), but after rebooting into the new shiny Unity environment I was met with yet another surprise: a totally unresponsive desktop. The only thing that it would do is let me move the pointer. The only session option I had which actually works is the Classic desktop with effects disabled. This is actually a step backward considering that it worked very well under Maverick.
I've heard quite a few good things about 11.04, so it can't all be as terrible as my experience has been. I'm sure in the next couple of weeks a lot of things will shake out. Personally speaking, Natty Narwhal should have been a little less ambitious because this release will not reflect well on Ubuntu as a community or on Canonical. Perhaps Oneiric will be better. It certainly can't do much worse.